Monday, May 31, 2010

No Smoking

There are certain things that never cease to amaze me. I feel it is not an exclusive thought. Guess everyone thinks so. In fact one of the many questions that Yama asks Yudhishtra is ‘what is the most surprising thing of all’ and his reply that pleases Yama was, ‘When people die everyday, each one believes that they would live forever’. For each, there is some surprise!!!

This sudden pearl of wisdom occurred to me when I was thinking about smoking. Actually, I smoke. And I am not proud when I say that. As a person who claims to be very intelligent and as one with arrogance that the world is infested with fools, I can never be proud making such a statement. I am aware that it is a dirty and unhealthy habit and the world has come too far from the days when it used to be advertised ‘Majority of the Doctors prefer smoking Camels’. Neither it is macho anymore to smoke. For that matter, I don’t ‘macho’ matters anymore at all. Girls would love to see a guy with a cooking apron on him than him straddling a horse. Nobody is a cowboy anymore.

So, but for the addiction I have developed, I don’t smoke for any other reason. The dangers of the ugly habit are well known to me, but then there are so many such misadventures in one’s life. Whenever, an article appears with the life threatening effects of smoking I cringe unto myself and pretend that I haven’t seen that, as much as one does not see a credit card statement when it is received, as if not seeing that would make the expenses vanish. But as it is in both cases, the damage is already done. The constant reiteration of what wrong one has done does no good. It makes one feel being punished for crimes committed in the past. You may ask me. Why is that you are cribbing about all these? There are plenty of answers to that. But a couple of them are relevant to this subject.

No 1 is that, yes I am still smoking but why is that you are a judge? How frequently do you play the judge role in your fraternity on other issues? Assuming that there was a womanizer in your group, considering the fact that this habit has also become life threatening apart from the moral scrutiny one can apply, would you ask him while being in a group on why he is womanizing? Would you preach him about the evils of that habit while you are sitting in a group? The only thing you will ever do is hide your sister away. OK if there was some reservation on such a sensitive subject, why don’t you ask such questions about drinking? Would you sit in a meeting and talk about someone’s drinking habit?

The only guys whom I listen to on this subject are people who people who quit the smoking habit and that too when they share that with me in private and not get into a preaching mode about why I should quit. Not every robber turned holy and wrote Ramayana. And these guys also overdo their part by being suggestive about their ability to quit. Well of course it is a great job, but why are you saying that in a way that the people who haven’t done that are jerks? You were one day before yesterday buddy!! And how come suddenly you think it is a platform to showcase your will power which was zilch till a few days back and it continues to zilch even today in many other habits? These converts sometimes are more dangerous than the original fanatics.

No 2 is that, please try to understand the habit. It is an addiction. Brain cells get addicted to Nicotine and when there is short supply there is a craving and when the supply is made it quietens. What starts as a artificial high initially becomes a dependence and it so happens at one time that the absence of nicotine causes trouble than the presence of it giving a high. A classic addiction story! More and more is required to maintain what you felt at the beginning. Sometimes it is also a physical habit. The thrill of lighting it! As it is with me! I throw half my cigarette away and I act as if I am in a rush to die. Well maybe yes or maybe no. But the fact is that, it becomes a habit. And it becomes such a part of your being, the very thought of letting it to go, pains.

At one end there is cold logic and at the other end there is this blind love. It is similar to what a young girl would go through when she has to choose between her parents and the guy whom she loves. The love for parents is definitely strong, but at the same time the prospect of letting go of love appears disastrous. Whenever I think of quitting, a drama plays out in my mind as if I am losing a part of me which surprisingly is not preferred as against losing the whole of me. The quote of Epicurus comes to my mind ‘Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come and when death has come, we are not’. So, all the scary images on the cigarette cartons, articles about the evil stick is so distant when it is being read, because currently it is about letting your love go. Somehow you believe that your parents will understand and in this case somehow you will escape from death. And the illogical and impossible fight between brain and mind takes place where the mind wins most all the time. And I know the mind and brain are the same and that presents the classic Smoker’s Dilemma. To quit or not to quit!

Now, coming back to advisors, there are two kinds of preachers. One who think that this is an unhealthy habit and are true when they advise you to chuck the habit! The second set that has the moral high ground of not smoking and look at me as if I would run off with their wives because I smoke. This is not a frigging Menthoplus advertisement right? If at all that happens it would happen because, she doesn’t want to be with you and not my moral ineptitude that lures her way.

Anyway, the crux of the matter is that whoever advises about the ill-effects of smoking should also understand about it as a habit and as a chemical dependence that has been created. It is something like one of your friends proudly proclaiming that he is a 100% non vegetarian. He is addicted to meat. Simple! In fact this is a guy whom you need to be careful about!

But I am aware that I can’t speak my way through. It is an unhealthy habit. It is bad for me and also people around me. I can die. But just that you don’t kill me with your advice before cancer catches up.

If at all there is some motivation for me to quit, it is to stop listening to advice from every kid to peer.

And I am going to…

Friday, April 09, 2010

Two Dogs & Hindi

I am generally seen as someone who has been made out of anger. Though it surprises me personally, I don’t think the belief is too far from truth. The only editing liberty I would take in that statement is to rephrase it as ‘I am someone who is afflicted by righteous indignation all the time’. Being a hardcore fan of Amitabh Bacchan, this angry young man image pleases me; despite I am now an ‘Angry Not So Young Man’. But then so is Big B!

I will get displeased at the drop of the hat but still I claim that I am not made out of anger because if I was one, I would have put the Charles Mansons and the Ted Bundy’s of the world to shame. By this time my victim account would have been in thousands if not millions. The reason I am not a serial killer is because I got enlightened pretty soon in my life. I realized the fact that I deal with a world full of ignoramuses and I can’t punish them for that. So the anger or displeasure is euphemistically transformed into righteous indignation.

Having set the platform right, I should tell about my latest inglorious tryst with language chauvinists. I use the term Chauvinist because they are so. Who else will find a guy like me who bats for his mother tongue as a Chauvinist? A fundamental thing like me slipping into Tamizh while I speak or arguing against the fact that Hindi is our national language makes me appear so to them. Well didn’t I tell that I deal with ignoramuses!!!

In one of my earlier posts I have accepted myself as a chauvinist and that was 2 years before. And when in 2 years I see nothing has changed and I see more and more of such actions, it dawned on me that, it is they who are chauvinists and not me. Well the driver in that episode was a certified ignoramus, but the latest episode was with some of the best minds that work with me. It was a meeting between 5 of us, all at the level of Directors. One out of them doesn’t understand Tamizh and the rest of us were original Agmark TamBrams. I as usual slipped into Tamizh and I was pointed out that there was one member who didn’t understand the language. I promptly apologized and switched to English. And inadvertently I repeated the mistake and there was another reminder. Then came a wise suggestion by one of the senior members. He said ‘Irrespective of who is present in the meeting, we should stick to English as a language and not talk in Tamizh’. That triggered the famous rage in me.

I told you I am not Charles Manson, so obviously I controlled the anger and merely pointed out that we guys are never returned this favor when there are Hindi speaking people in the meeting. In fact it has even become fashionable to speak in Hindi deliberately in a feigned ignorance about everyone would know Hindi anyway. This is what I call as Chauvinism!! The assumption that all of us Indians would and should know Hindi! And looking down upon people who don’t know Hindi like illiterates! What can one talk about such kind of ignorance?

About people who display jingoism & fanaticism without knowing the facts? The fact is that Hindi is not the national language of India. I could bet that 90% of the population doesn’t know this fact. There are only 10 states in this country of 28 states where Hindi is an official language.

Of course Hindi is the official language of the Union of India along with English, but then the constitution has also said that any language that is recognized as an official language in any state of India would be given the status of National Language. And there are 18 languages that are recognized as Official Languages by the Constitution. Approximately 40+ % of India’s population has Hindi as mother tongue and that is the argument the Hindi fanatics place for making Hindi as the National Language. The late DMK leader Annadurai famously quipped that if that is the case, our national animal should be Rat and not Tiger. On hindsight, watching the national animal becoming extinct, we should have accepted Hindi as a national language and killed it completely like the tigers.

As a matter of fact, Tamil Nadu even opposed to Hindi becoming an official language in 1950, leave alone that being National Language. Once again Annadurai gave the famous two dogs & Hindi story. It goes like this. A man had two dogs. One was a large breed and the other one was a tiny breed. He wanted to create doors for these dogs in the main entrance, so he stupidly built one large door and another small door when even the tiny breed could very well use the large door. Like that when English was functioning very well as the Official language to cater to a select part of the population (just about 40%), Hindi was also added as Official Language. Graciously providing 15 years for the non-Hindi speaking population to learn Hindi so that in 1965, Hindi could become the sole official language! If this was not imposition what else could be? Why should a new federal state that was a combination of million princely provinces not long ago, should force a fanatic law onto its population to learn a new language.

That was the first act of systematic annihilation of other languages and races in India. A race is decimated when its language & culture is destroyed. At Sri Lanka, during the peak of Sinhala-Tamizh struggle the Sinhala fascists burnt down the largest Tamizh library in the world at Jaffna. Since Hindi became the official language, the advantage of Government jobs went to Hindi speaking people because the UPSC was given in English & Hindi, so one group replied in its mother tongue and the other in a foreign tongue. So in your own country, you become a loser because you don’t know a language which is not your mother tongue. Because of higher job opportunities, these days people make their children learn Hindi also and in most schools in place of Tamizh. This would mean, Tamizh cannot be read by a generation and when a language cannot be read it doesn’t grow because it will not be written either.

Everywhere through central government machinery and stealthy by laws Hindi is being imposed upon the non-Hindi population. For example, if you are flying out of Chennai, if you don’t know Hindi or English your safety is compromised because the announcements would only be in those languages. Even the private airlines are copying this pattern and I suspect that there could be a clause governing this. And to think that the first language to have been accorded the Classical Language status was Tamizh and was later followed by Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada! Hindi is nowhere to be seen here.

The government in a reply to a RTI query has stated that “there is no provision in the Constitution to declare Hindi as the national language’, yet many of us believe Hindi is already one. That is because of plain hegemony. They have slowly occupied many domains through the central government propaganda sidelining rich languages like Bengali and the other Dravidian languages (the CBSE 10th std Social Studies book carries just one single mention about Tamizh in its lesson about Literature in India, while there are pages about Hindi. That is when, after Premchand I haven’t heard of a single Hindi author!!!)

I can go on and on. But it is of no avail. As long as I have fellow Tamizh’s who think less of talking in the language they called their mother first. Unless people wake up to realize the slow imposition and help the country evolve a 3 language policy, we will continue to face discrimination.

And I will stay a fool for now knowing Hindi! Would it not be a coup? Someone with my IQ, becoming a fool for refusing to learn a language which 40 of my distant neighbors in a 100 member colony speak?? !!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pericope Adulterae

It has been bugging me for a week now! This collective fascination about pornography we have as a tribe in Tamizh Nadu! This is not to mean that I am a cut above the rest; just that I don’t want it to be aired on TV and discussed amongst everyone secretly envying Nithyananda. The man has some cheek and he was playing it right in front of our eyes. He anyway calls himself as Nithyananda and has found the way for everyday bliss, only that we were looking up the skies for God to deliver that to us!

I am surprised that educated people fall for such con artists. One may get into some pop psychology and blame the fast paced life that we have and our penchant for instant gratification in a fast-food world. But why such Godmen?! One should look at Swami Parthasarathy, well into his 80’s still having a good game of cricket and with same equanimity talk for 10 days on a single chapter of Bhagvad Gita.

I read somewhere this morning that wherever you go , you are only taught Yoga, Meditation and Breathing exercises, but why this fascination for branding within that beats me! If I ever get motivated to learn these 3 disciplines, the first thing I am going to do is become a Swamiji like this! Solid job it seems to be! Money, Women, Fame and Blind devotion; even Mukesh Ambani cant dream all this together!

Jokes apart, I am fuming at the flagrant violation of individual rights in this country and no one seems to be worried about it, because everyone on their own right plays moral police. It is one thing that someone wanted to expose a fake Swami but who gives them right to malign a woman. What crime did she commit? She just seemed to have slept with a man whom she liked and since when it is a crime? And if someone was to make a statement like Jesus Christ did, when he asked people who haven’t committed any sin to stone the girl, where will we keep our face? Who amongst us are sinless that we can condemn such things?

And to think that the whole state including the Ministers drool at the site of an actress, yet have no great opinion on them when it comes to morality is a shame. We seemed to think that any actress will sleep with anyone. Even if they did so what is our issue about it? Shall I tell you? Our issue is that she is not sleeping with us! It is a display on one of the seven sins from our side. Envy, that’s what it is! If the lady with the Swami was someone lesser known, there would not have been such a voyeurism and much of a commercial gain too. So what will you call a TV channel that airs soft porn featuring two known personalities for the sake of money? For me that is what prostitution is!

And such thoughts and people are so marginalized that barring one journalist no one condemned this ugly act of exposing the woman too, not supported her to stand up for her rights. And that is not even from the circle of her friends who are supposed to be the elite of Tamizh filmdom!

Looks like there is only one rule that governs life! And that is ‘If you get caught, you get dropped’. And till you don’t, I will look at getting my share of the pie. I only wish Ranjeetha stood up and sued these guys!